Every year I hear from a good friend at Christmas time. I see her two boys growing older in the photos. I hear of the events in her life over the past year. I laugh at her humor. This Christmas came and went, but I didn’t hear from her. It’s the first time she has gone silent since our Bible college days in the 90’s when we spent countless hours learning about the Holy One of Israel.
Nor do I expect to hear from her again. I miss her.
My friend’s silence came as no surprise. After the holiday season last year, she issued a declaration of how her family’s changed belief system prevents them from ever celebrating “the feasts of men”—Christmas and Easter—in the future. She shared how her beliefs have changed in a letter marked intentionally as a New Year’s letter and in a pamphlet. The title of this neatly folded, colored, home-made insert read, “Passport to an Incredible Journey.”
My friend’s journey has taken her to online sites where she has sat at the virtual feet of individuals teaching on the New World Order, end-time prophecy and finances, the Catholic church’s missteps, the Feasts of the LORD, and God restoring ‘His’ calendar in ‘His’ timing—all while seeming to ignore any critic raising concerns over these teachings.
Paying attention to vocabulary serves the purpose of understanding the recent shift in my friend’s religious beliefs. “Jesus” is not Jesus but “Yeshua.” There’s nothing wrong with Hebrew, but one must keep in mind the connotations associated with references to Jesus as “Yeshua” made by Christians and Messianic believers. After all, what’s wrong with “Jesus”?
Next, there’s the phrase of discovering “God’s truth” in the sense of gaining special access to it through answered prayer. But researching the teachings my friend now adheres to, I see a lot of fear-based teachings from white males making a whole lot of money, like Norm Franz, with little or no credentials, unless you count Jim Staley’s personal vision into the “Hebraic ‘original authors’ mindsets” as a credential.
‘Original Hebrew mindset’ is the key phrase on which my friend bases her reshaped belief in YHWH and Yeshua. I don’t exactly know what ‘original Hebrew mindset’ means. I do anticipate that any answer would be complex, not simple.
I’m left with two perplexing questions.
First, what happened? I ask not in the sense of whether my friend is right or wrong, but out of curiosity. What led her to replace Christmas and Easter with the “Feasts of the LORD,” to leave the church she loved, to pull her kids out of public school, and resort to the laying on of hands to heal her son from pneumonia rather than take him to a medical doctor?
Second, why has my friend cut off? This is the most painful part. She has left everything familiar, even her friendships, to embrace a path of getting back to ‘the original,’ the original God, the original God-established Feasts in the Old Testament, the original Jesus in the New Testament. By cutting off, she has created a clearing to get back to the original God-ordained truth that apparently she never knew before, as if dismissing the one true God who promises never to leave or forsake.
I wonder if she will ever pause long enough in her journey to realize that God in Jesus came, and always comes, to meet each of us wherever we are at. Anything less is only a vain attempt to reach back in time to the unattainable Holy One of Israel.
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